It was one of those things you either loved or hated. In most cases, she had observed everyone seemed to hate it. The Baltic Trio often stood by the fire during the coldest part of the season, shivering away like three big wimps and discussing in hushed tones how they wished they could visit somewhere warmer. Russia often made quiet mentions of his desire to visit somewhere warm, a place with a beach. This was especially prevalent during his failed canal attempt, where he spoke of little else but sand, sun and warm waters. Belarus appeared to care little if it snowed or not. She rarely spoke in any case, anyway, only sat around glaring at everyone and daring the younger Bloc members to come close to her.
In such cases it seemed the only ones who did care enough about the snow were those who knew how to play in it. But even they were beginning to wonder how much longer they would have the energy to put into their small leisure time as Russia's shadow and grip grew tighter and tighter on what they could and could not do.
Slovakia, also known as Dominika, took in a deep breath of the cold, crisp air before letting it out with a hard cough. Shaking her strawberry blonde hair, she looked back over her shoulder to observe Czech, Romania and Bulgaria who were taking their time in climbing the hill. Wimps. Well, Czech at least was. He was not much older than her, he could keep up if he truly tried. Romania and Bulgaria she could excuse a bit, they were worked harder than she was. Still, she'd hoped the excitement of sledding in Finland's backyard would have spiked some enthusiasm from them. No matter, perhaps their pace would pick up once they saw the beautiful view she herself was now enjoying.
Ah, Finland. Such a nice place to go and visit. One of the few "westernized" countries Russia permitted them to go and explore. Finland had good relations with Russia and he trusted the young blonde more than he did any of the other modernized countries that surrounded his vast Soviet empire.
A small smile played across the young girl's face. She hoped Finland would be home today and not at a Nordic meeting. He made some of the best desserts, and she would love to get her hands on one of his omenakakku cakes. Oh, could he make a good apple cake!
"Hurry up, losers!" she yelled, turning her attention back on the three sledders ascending the hill. "We don't have all day!"
"Shut up, Slovak!" Czech yelled back. Her older brother by about two years, he had a distinctly Germanic look to him while she was an obvious descendant of the Slavs. The three young men dragged their sleds behind them up the slope. "Stop telling us what to do, that's disrespectful!"
In human years she would be considered twelve, though her people and landmass had been around much longer than that. She wasn't much to look at, a fairly average young girl who had yet to be of any sizable stature. She also lacked distinct feminine features, having not yet hit puberty.
No matter, Ukraine promised that would happen in good time when she grew older. "And perhaps if you get some more meat on your bones," the Slavic woman had murmured, caressing Slovakia's cheek. "You need to fill out some before that time comes."
Fat chance of getting much more to eat. The thought of food made her stomach growl. Dominika pushed the thought out of her head, focusing once more on the landscape. 'Don't think of food. Don't think of food.'
A good, hardy meal was something they'd all gone without for many, many years. The Eastern Bloc Home was not known for its abundance. 'Please, please let Finland be home today,' she thought to no one in particular. Not God, no. He wasn't allowed in the Eastern Bloc.
If Finn was there he'd give them something to eat. He was good about that. It was hard to believe he could be such a devil if he chose to be. The Winter War was not lost on Slovakia's memory, though, nor the fact Finland had driven Russia right out of his own home before settling with a truce. Not many countries could do that without allies.
Ah, at last! Here came the three boys. Dominika shivered and rubbed her arms, glaring at the boys to prove they had taken a bit too long. Romania had none of it, though, he simply laughed and tousled her hair.
"Impatient one," he teased, his fangs showing. "This is a nice hill, though."
"Except for one thing," Bulgaria, or, Bogomil, mused, green eyes surveying the hill.
Czech came to stand next to her, teeth chattering. "Why do we do this to ourselves for one or two joyrides down a hill? We should use our break time better than this. Fantastický, completely fantastic."
Slovakia felt a bit indignant. She glared at her three comrades, attempting to disprove there was any possibility she too, might be cold. This had been her idea, she wanted to at least make it sound like it was good. "Best hill in Finland, Timo showed it to me himself. It's got a good slope, not too steep but long enough we'll get a really good ride out of it. See for yourselves, doesn't it look fun?"
"Except..." Bulgaria shuddered, stepping back from the slope. "There's that house down there."
Dominika followed Bogomil's pointed finger to find there was indeed a small home not far from the bottom of the slope. Far enough away that she doubted they'd cross into the area, but close enough her curiosity was spiked.
"Finn doesn't live out here," she commented.
"No." Now Romania's voice plunged. His red eyes widened, he dropped the sled he was carrying with suddenness. "That's the border to Sweden. That's Mr. Sweden's home!"
Mr. Sweden's home? Surely they jested! One look at the two Balkan men, though, changed Slovakia's mind when she saw the fear in their eyes. Both of them turned back towards the way they had come up.
"I thought he lived in Stockholm!" Dominika protested, snagging Czech's arm when he made a move to leave, too. "What's so scary about him anyway? He's a neutral country."
"Ha! So he says! Sweden terrorized us when we were but children. He used to chase Russia, Dominika. He's bigger than us, stronger, and experienced. He was a Viking!" Romania was growing passionate with fear, not hard to do considering. He was apt to such bursts of emotions like this. He grabbed Slovakia's arm. "We should go. Let's not chance it."
She jerked herself out of his grip with a growl, her temper flaring. "I put all this work into coming here today and you want to bail on me? Wimps!"
"Yes, we're wimps," Bulgaria agreed. "Now let's go."
"You can't prove to me that's his home," she challenged.
"What does it matter?" Czech said, at last speaking up. He frowned at his younger sister, tugging her hair. "If it's Sweden's territory we shouldn't go there."
"Finn said this place was fine to sled on." She couldn't believe it. This was the first time in a couple weeks they'd had more than an hour off from their tasks Russia assigned them. They didn't get such an opportunity often. "He wouldn't lie. Please, Dorin." She made puppy eyes at Romania, an easy target with his doting relationship on Moldova. "Please."
Romania blinked, blinked again, and moaned, looking away. "Sweden could kill us. Or do something awful. He's scary. So scary."
"Very scary," Bulgaria agreed.
"Terrifying," Czech voiced.
That last one earned a hard look from Dominika. "You never met Sweden, Czech," she snapped.
"Heard enough about him to form an opinion," he returned. "Come, Slovak."
She set her sled down and pointed it in the direction of the slope. "Fine." Slovakia leveled her eyes at the three men, thinking perhaps it would have been best to ask little Moldova to come with her today instead of these three whiners. "Watch me."
Too late. She flopped herself onto the sled, the quick movement enough to send the sled propelling down the slope. Faster and faster she went, faster than she'd expected. It was steeper than she thought. And she was going too fast. Far too fast.
Maybe this was a bad idea...
Behind her she could hear shouts and yells from her three neighbors and comrades. "Turn, Dominika, turn!" Dorin yelled.
Turn. Turn. He was right, she needed to turn the sled. She was making a beeline for the small house below, which was now far too close for her comfort. A fence line had appeared, and what looked like shrubs surrounded the property.
She was heading straight for it.
Jerking on the handle of the old fashioned sled, she found to her dismay it was stuck. No!
No it couldn't be! She'd just fixed it! Slovakia jerked it again, pulling with all her might. No luck. She couldn't get the runners to change direction. Faster she went, right in the direction of the fence-
A bump. She was flying through the air. Now falling. Crashed. Rolling. Rolling so fast, she couldn't stop herself. She ran into one object. Then another. Something cracked. Was it her bones or something else? Pain, pain! Was someone yelling from the hill? Noises. Everything was white. Now it was black.
Everything was black.
Oh she was sleepy now.
Dominika blinked, her eyelashes covered with little white snowflakes. She tried to take in a deep breath of air but found her breath knocked out of her, she couldn't breathe. Panicked seized her. The sky above was dark and odd looking, part of it was dark blue and the other part a light blue, like big, black clouds covering part of the otherwise clear sky. She coughed, coughed again, and then took in a sharp breath of air. Oh! Her chest! Oh it hurt, hurt, hurt!
Taking another shuddering, coughing breath, she blinked some more until the snowflakes melted from her eyes enough to be able to see-
A cry rose in her throat. She was on her feet so fast the big man in the blue overcoat had no chance to get a good hold on her. He caught her coat sleeve but she jerked herself away from him, her coat staying in his arms while she ran, ran, ran. Back for the hill, back for Russia, back to safety from the man in blue.
Slovakia didn't look back, she simply ran for all her life's worth. Terror gave her the energy she needed over the injuries she'd sustained, she pushed the pain out of her brain and fled for the hill. Neither of the three eastern countries who had accompanied here were in sight. They'd disappeared.
Upon reaching the top of the hill, she was caught by the heel and drug down the other side. She squealed.
"Shut up and ride, Slovakia!" Czech snarled, throwing her onto his sled. Romania and Bulgaria were at the bottom, waving frantically for the two. Czech pushed off and they flew down the backside of the hill, back into Finnish territory. Not Soviet but still safer than whatever she'd just stumbled into back there.
They reached the bottom of the hill, Bulgaria grabbing her arm and pulling her up. "Did he hurt you? Stab you? Are you okay? We need to go!"
Slovakia could barely breathe, let alone answer. She slapped Romania away when he tried to check her neck for injuries in case his vampire side kicked in and he bit her, then pushed away from Bulgaria.
"Jerks, you guys almost let me be killed!" she gasped. Dominika shivered, coat-less and very aware of it. "What if he comes for me?"
"I doubt he got a good look at your face, he probably has no idea who you are," Bulgaria encouraged. He pointed to the snow covered territory ahead, nary a tree or shrub in sight. "But if we don't leave now he'll catch up with us. Let's get out of here!"
She needed no second invitation. Following in the footsteps of the three boys, Slovakia forced herself not to look back and see if the man in blue was watching her.
Slovakia didn't need an explanation to know the man who had towered above her, glaring down with fierce green eyes and a scowl like death was none other than Mr. Sweden himself.
'That's the last time I trust Finny on a good sled hill.'
The boys were right though. She relaxed just a tad and let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
It had only been a second, maybe more. He couldn't possibly know who she was. No way would he find her. So long as she didn't wander into his territory again, she was safe.
At least, so she thought.